by: Ian Barraclough [ ]
IntroductionNumber 28 of Meng Models Tyrannosaurus Series arrives in a deep box with high quality, attractive artwork on the front that would give some of Tamiya’s great box art pieces a run for their money. I do think Meng have missed a trick by not choosing one of the bright schemes from the Russian Tank Biathlon for the box top; but one of these is shown on the box side and shown in one of the 5-sided profile in the painting guide. My box arrived slightly crushed but more about that later. Inside the box is:
1. A 24-page instruction manual (36 steps) including a detailed vehicle description; acknowledgment of Gur Khan Publishing House input and 5 colour profiles. There’s also a paint colour guide for Meng and AK Interactive colours.
2. Upper and lower hull parts.
3. Upper turret.
3. 23 sprues of dark green plastic, individually bagged in clear poly bags
4. Two small sheets of photo etch (Grilles and wheel mask).
5. A clear sprue.
6. Rubber track ends (7 sprues).
7. Decal sheet and rope (for cable).
8. 1 Sprue of softer (vinyl?) plastic for mantlet cover and fuel drum piping.
9. Track building parts (sprue J) and suspension adjustment tool.
ReviewA scan of the instructions shows the now ‘regular method of building AFVs: lower hull and running gear; upper hull and then turret. Steps 1 through 9 detail the lower hull. It’s good to see Meng including working suspension and even a suspension alignment tool to ensure all wheels are level. For those of you that have built the Meng T90 the tracks will be familiar to you. They build up in sections of six, using three different supplied tools to ensure a speedy build. I almost enjoy building these individual tracks… almost.
The upper hull is covered in steps 10 to 25 and should provide no surprises. The parts are stunningly detailed, although the choice of dark green for the plastic means that you have to look hard to see it. I had to put some serious lighting up to get the detail to show in the pictures. Some of the parts are very fine and delicate and, as the sprues do not have any padding (as per some of the other manufacturers) some of the parts in my kit were damaged or had been knocked off the sprues. Meng do not provide any hull interior parts but they do have two types of T-72 engines as separate kits. The large engine deck door is provided as a separate part so could be easily depicted open. Step 23 adds the tow rope – usefully Meng provide a 100mm marked ruler opposite this step to ensure you get the right length. I would have liked to have seen the option to have the fuel drum brackets(F7) provided as folded, as seen on the Tank Biathlon pictures – sadly the fuel drums are in two halves each so will need a lot of clean-up to hide seams. Strangely one of the instruction call outs in the fuel drum construction (step 24) points to the completed fuel drum and states ‘Must fill’… I think this could cause a fire hazard!
The gun and turret are dealt with in steps 26 – 36: the main gun is provided in 7 parts with the two long barrel lengths provided as 2 halves. This will again take some cleaning up and careful alignment to ensure a straight barrel. The gun mantlet is provided as soft vinyl so the gun should be able to be moved up and down (whilst making tank noises of course). The gunner’s primary sight is provided for the turret interior, which is prominent with the gunner’s hatch open. I would have also liked to have seen parts for the commander’s sight as again this can be seen with the commander’s hatch open. Parts are provided for the hatch interiors. The turret boxes are provided as 5 separate side and will require patience when building, but should build up into very detailed representations. The commander’s cupola an anti-aircraft MG take up 5 instruction steps on their own – this should give you an idea of the amount of detail in this kit! The AA MG can be posed in two positions depending on the parts used but is not moveable. The final step attaches the turret to the hull and also adds the optional driver’s splash guard – a very nice addition.
ConclusionI’ve heard grumblings on the modelling grapevine about there being no etched detail parts in this kit – as an etched brass addict myself I was quite surprised to hear that a modern kit was being released with no etched brass parts, but I can assure you that they are not needed here – the finesse and detail on the plastic is probably the best I’ve seen – period. Some may want to invest in an aftermarket barrel; if it wasn’t an in-box review for the build I would probably do the same. I would like to have seen the engine included, but having seen it recently for sale at a show I think it would add too much onto the price of the kit for something that might not even be used.
I hope now that Meng will add the T-72B3M (B4) to the series – although I don’t think that this would be too much additional work for those of us that are willing to have a go at some scratch building. I’m sure the AM guys will soon be all over this kit.